Transcripts from CNN

The Lockerbie/Pan Am 103 Trial proposal 24/08 - 27/08 1998

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Special Event

Moammar Gadhafi Discusses PAN AM Compromise

Aired August 27, 1998 - 2:30 p.m. ET

The Gadhafi interview-transcript is found HERE.

World Today

Gadhafi's Response Receives Mixed Reaction

Aired August 27, 1998 - 8:25 p.m. ET

JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi told CNN today he has no problem with turning over two suspects in the PAN AM 103 bombing. First, however, he wants some guarantees.

Details from CNN senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: If diplomats, lawyers, and family members linked with the PAN AM 103 tragedy were looking for a crystal clear response from the leader of Libya, they didn't get it. In a CNN interview, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi seemed to support the proposal to have two Libyan bombing suspects tried in the Netherlands for the Lockerbie attack, but he has concerns.

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER: I think Libya has no objection because it is an initiative. It is a proposal. But I am not sure America and the U.K. have good intentions to solve this problem. I am not sure they are serious, because I expect their minds to be put in the way of the solution, because these two governments always hindering this solution of this problem, and put obstacles always.

ROTH: The mixed message was not what the United States wanted to hear.

PETER BURLEIGH, DEP. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It was not a clear acceptance, at least I didn't understand it to be. I thought the language was confusing and conditional in a way that led me to the feeling that he was temporizing while appearing to be forthcoming.

ROTH: By proposing that a Scottish, three judge panel hear the case against the Libyans in the Netherlands, the U.S. and United Kingdom were, in effect, seeing if the Libyans were bluffing, since Colonel Gadhafi's government had long demanded a trial in a neutral third country. The Libyan ruler is worried about what will happen to the two suspects, in the Netherlands. He says they are human beings not tins of fruit.

GADHAFI (through translator): I am talking about procedures and guarantees and whether there are good intentions by the two countries to solve this problem or is just a mere trick to adopt such resolutions.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will know whether they have accepted formally when the suspects show up at the court. Until then, we will not be satisfied with an answer.

ROTH: If Libya does comply, Tripoli's Arab brethren are eager to see the lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed on Libya for failing to turn over the suspects.

HUSSEIN HASSOUNA, ARAB LEAGUE REP. TO U.N.: I think it's a very positive development in finally achieving a peaceful solution of this crisis.

ROTH: And if the two Libyan intelligence men make it to court, their leader refuses to speculate on their judicial fate.

GADHAFI: This is left to the court. I am not discussing whether they are guilty or not.

ROTH: Washington and London say there is no time limit on receiving an official Libyan response, but the men should be turned over quickly and without conditions.


ROTH: In about one hour, the U.N. Security Council will begin meeting to approve the U.S.-U.K. proposal to Libya, to have the suspects tried in the Netherlands. Also included in the resolution is a threat to impose further sanctions perhaps, against Libya if the suspects are not brought to the Netherlands.

MORET: Richard, if the suspects are turned over, when might we see the U.N. Security Council actually vote to lift the sanctions permanently?

ROTH: Well, according to the resolution and the U.N. diplomats here, as soon as the suspects physically arrive and are transferred to the Netherlands the sanctions would be suspended. At the end of all the judicial proceedings and the trial, then the sanctions would be lifted. They've been in place against Libya since 1992. The most significant a complete air travel embargo though leader Gadhafi has sometimes violated that embargo.

MORET: CNN's Richard Roth reporting live.

Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM WORLDVIEW for August 27, 1998

Aired August 27, 1998 - 4:30 a.m. ET

HENDERSON: In the news, two suspects in the deadly 1988 Pam An bombing could finally go to trial. Libya has accepted a U.S.-British proposal to try the two Libyan suspects in the Netherlands.

Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland nearly 10 years ago. But it remains to be seen if the suspects will make it to court this time. Handovers have been discussed over the years, with no action.

It was December 1988 when the Pan Am plane exploded. Two hundred seventy people were killed, Including 11 people on the ground. The plane was traveling from London to New York with many Americans on board heading home for the Christmas holidays.

Intelligence reports implicated two Libyan Secret Service agents, who are said to have smuggled the bomb aboard the plane in Frankfurt, Germany. The two suspects received sanctuary in Libya in 1991. That same year, the United Nations Security Council demanded that Libya hand over the suspects. It also banned international air travel to Libya and imposed sanctions on arms sales.

In 1993 the council froze all Libyan assets abroad and banned the sale of any oil industry equipment to the North African state. Libya has often said it is willing to extradite the pair of suspects. So families of the victims remain skeptical.

Richard Roth has more.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Through state run media, the Libyan government announced it agreed to allow two suspects in the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing to be tried by a Scottish court in the Netherlands.

Libya was responding to a take-it-or-leave-it proposal from the United States and the United Kingdom. However, the U.S. State Department says Libya's acceptance fell short of Security Council resolutions to turn over the suspects promptly for trial.

British Foreign Minister Cook said it seems like a positive development. Libya said its acceptance of a Netherlands trial "will prove to the world if the proposals are free from any conditions laid down by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States that would impede the holding of the trial."

An attorney for 100 of the victims families in the United States:

LEE KREINDLER, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIMS FAMILIES: My reaction to the news is surprise and hope. My reaction to this news is that finally -- and its almost 10 years now since the Lockerbie tragedy. Finally we may get into a court of law.

ROTH: But other victims' relatives are skeptical.

ROSEMARIE WOLFE, MOTHER OF VICTIM: I do not trust Qaddafi. He's a murderer and a terrorist, and we have no reason to trust him. just because he says something doesn't mean its going to happen.

ROTH: The U.N. Security Council will still press ahead on a resolution Thursday that lifts sanctions on Libya as soon as the suspects are transferred to the Netherlands. If Colonel Qaddafi does not live up to his promise, further U.N. sanctions are threatened.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.

CNN Today

Victims' Relatives Unhappy with Pan Am 103 Trial Proposal

Aired August 24, 1998 - 1:11 p.m. ET

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: As we told you moments ago today, the U.S. and Britain announced that they would like to have Scottish judges try the case of the bombing of Pan Am 103 in the Netherlands. They would like the two Libyan suspects handed over for trial, and family members, people who lost loved ones, are not happy that the trial may not take place in the United States.

Rosemary Wolfe lost her stepdaughter in the flight 103 explosion. She was one of those who heard from Madeleine Albright earlier today. She joins us in our Washington studio.

Miss Wolfe, thank you for being with us. What did you think about what Madeleine Albright had to say to you, this morning?

ROSEMARY WOLFE, STEPMOTHER OF PAN AM 103 VICTIM: I was beyond disappointed, and really quite upset. We have spent the past month trying to dissuade the administration from doing this. There has been nothing from Tripoli or the Arab world over the past month since this proposal was announced as being in the exploration stages.

That indicates that they would accept it. So, I don't really understand the reason why we're going ahead with this. I think we're -- you know, ready to get another kick in the face from Gadhafi (ph).

ALLEN: So, the secretary didn't explain the reasons to you?

WOLFE: Yes, she gave her reasons. You know, the reasons being that it's been 10 years, there's a stalemate, the sanctions are eroding, and we need to do something.

What we need to do is something that will be effective. For the past seven years ever since the indictments were issued, we have relied on the world community. We have relied on the rule of law to get us justice. This has not happened.

This proposal, I believe, is just part of another political football. It's just a game and it's going to not result in a trial in the Hague, but it's going to result in even more sentiment for an end to the sanctions and more sentiment to do increased trade with Libya. Our lives right now have a great trade with Libya and so does the Arab and African world and this will only continue.

ALLEN: And, is it harder to take this news about this decision today, in light of how the U.S. reacted to the bombings in East Africa just last week?

WOLFE: Absolutely, we put out a letter to President Clinton on Friday, an open letter, saying to him that we supported that action. And, that we thought because there were years of inaction regarding Pan Am 103, where nothing had happened as far as getting justice for us, as far as getting them to trial, that it's time that this country looked at unilateral ways of getting Fema (ph) and McGrahi (ph) to trial.

ALLEN: Do you think there is anything that you and the other family members that are upset about this can do about the situation at this point?

WOLFE: The only thing we can do at this point is voice our disproval and voice our concern about what's going to happen at the U.N., now. There's going to be a major move to get rid of those sanctions. Britain is already through with the aerospace industry, indicating that they are ready to do a deal of six billion dollar's worth to help build up Gadhafi's aircraft industry.

I can't tell you how angry that makes me.

ALLEN: I can imagine. Final question: would it give you any satisfaction, at all, if the suspects are brought to trial and justice against them is found in the Netherlands?

WOLFE: Absolutely. But, I don't think it is ever going to come to a trial. I think that Gadhafi will continue to use his cunning to stall, to ignore what his Arab and African allies would recommend that he do, he will find ways of doing it. And, I'll tell you, they'll find ways of also accepting it, and we will be in a new position, where we will then have to negotiate for an international panel of judges, which would be totally politicized.

It's not the way the United States should try crimes of terrorism against his citizens.

ALLEN: Rosemary Wolfe, thank you for talking with us.

WOLFE: Thank you.


U.S. and Britain Make New Push to Bring Suspected Bombers of Pan Am Flight 103 to Trial

Aired August 24, 1998 - 6:15 p.m. ET

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The United States and Britain are making a new push to bring the suspected bombers of Pan Am flight 103 to trial, one decade after the devastating terrorist attack.

CNN's Jonathan Karl reports.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1988: A terrorist bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, kills 270 people. Now: 10 years later, the U.S. and Britain have a plan to bring the alleged bombers to justice by putting them on trial in the Netherlands.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me be clear: the plan the U.S. and the U.K. are putting forward is a take-it-or-leave- it proposition. It is not subject to negotiation or change.

KARL: The suspects are Libyans Abdel Megrahi (ph) and Lamen Fhemah (ph). Both have been given safe haven by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has refused to turn them over for trial in either the U.S. or Britain.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER: We must look for another place, for another country to be tried them.


KARL: There is no response to this U.S.-British proposal from Gadhafi, although the plan seems to answer Gadhafi's request for a change of venue. But substantively, the trial will differ little from what he has already rejected: a trial held in Scotland.

ROBIN COOK, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It will be a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It will apply Scottish law; Scottish and rules of procedure; Scottish laws on the leading of evidence and it will be held before Scottish judges.

KARL: A lawyer for the bombing suspects tells CNN that Gadhafi will likely find those terms unacceptable and demanded a jury made up of international judges. But some of the victims families are against any compromise with Gadhafi.

STEPHANIE BERNSTEIN, WIFE OF PAN AM 103 VICTIM: He has pushed for many years to negotiate the venue of a trial and this is precisely what he wants. It's not calling his bluff, as the administration has said. It's giving in to him.

KARL: But that view was not shared by all the families.

BERT AMMERMAN, BROTHER OF PAN AM 103 VICTIM: The families that say that Gadhafi is calling the shots are simply wrong. They're just not thinking rationally, and fortunately there's only a few of them now, and the vast majority of the families are in total agreement with this process.

KARL (on camera): Moammar Gadhafi has a significant financial incentive to agree to the U.S.-British proposal. If he turns over the suspects, U.N. sanctions against Libya, which have been in place since 1992, will finally be suspended.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.